‘Allo ‘Allo! star Vicki Michelle has warned that cancel culture is killing Britain’s sense of humour.
After a string of shows faced backlash on social media and were even pulled from streaming services after being dubbed offensive and inappropriate, the actress insisted that the shows being debated weren’t created to offend people.
The 70-year-old, best known for playing Yvette in the BBC sitcom set during the Second World War, said during an exclusive chat with the Mirror: “Political correctness has gone ridiculous.”
Speaking ahead of the new series of radio sitcom Barmy Dale as he daughter Lou, 31, joins the cast as her character’s offspring, Vicki said: “I think you have to draw a line but we don’t have to be stupid, and really if you interviewed most of the people in the country they’d go ‘what the hell is going on?’
“But it’s the few who bring stupid things. Someone said to me that you can’t say ‘master bedroom’, so do you say ‘mistress bedroom”? It’s actually comedy some of the stuff.
“Some stuff is really important and I think you need to bring these things to the fore but for goodness sake let’s not frighten people.”
She added: “I think people are scared to talk to others now because they’re frightened of saying something that might offend them.
“The British have always had that ability to laugh at themselves and when you lose that where is the comedy? Where is the fun?
“I think we should retain our comedy. If you put it out to a general vote they’d say ‘enough’, let’s not look too far into things and keep our sense of humour.
“People are so angry about everything.”
Lou, a successful stand up comedian who came third in a contest against seasoned comics that happened to be her first ever live performance, said stand ups like Frankie Boyle seem to get away with much more than TV sitcoms can.
And Vicki added: “Let’s face it, ‘Allo ‘Allo! is about the war so it was quite difficult at the beginning but none of those shows were written to offend anyone, those shows were written to make people laugh and they were loved by the country.
“They were put out to make people laugh, not insult or hurt people, but now you can find something offensive in anything and we’re becoming too serious.”
While Vicki and Lou have worked together before in the theatre, the new episodes of Barmy Dale will be their first joint radio project, and they can’t wait for fans to hear it.
On working with her daughter, Vicki said: “It’s fabulous because we’re sort of on the same wavelength and have the same comedy brains.
“There’s hope that Barmy Dale could be turned into a telly series which would be brilliant. They’re going to write a script and it’s been quite successful.
“It’s a good script and when I read it it was making me laugh out loud and very few scripts do that.”
Lou added: “I laughed as well and not everything does that. Mum will sometimes find things funny that I don’t because I’m from that different kind of era but this was just funny across the board.”
Vicki said Barmy Dale will have people roaring with laughter, just like the comedy shows she’s done in the past.
She said the writers drew inspiration from shows like ‘Allo ‘Allo! and Are You Being Served?, meaning it’s packed with good old-fashioned British humour.
Explaining the story of the show, Vicki said: “I’m married to Percy ‘Branston’ Edwards, I married him quite young and knew he was in the crime business.
“He’s inside but he’s escaped but he’s popped off lots of people and that’s why he earned the nickname Branston because he used to pickle his victims. I’m like, this shouldn’t be funny because he’s killing loads of people but it is! The Christmas one [Vicki’s first episode] was really funny, they were trying to get rid of a body by leaving it on a roof in a Santa costume.
“I don’t mind, I’m a bit of a hard nut and living in Spain but I find out he’s escaped so I meet up with my daughter, and that’s where Lou-Lou comes in.”
Her daughter added: “I play Tracy, the daughter of Angie and Percy, I guess I could have followed in my parents’ footsteps and become this brutal gangster but I’m actually a nurse because I wanted to care for people – so I’m kind of the opposite of them.”
Lou was inspired to become an actress after watching her mum hone her craft from a very young age.
She said: “I think when I was younger, I was like a little suitcase baby, I’d just be with mum for everything she did and I saw all these other great comedy actors that she was working with too, so I’d kind of seen everything early on and was absorbing it so I kind of naturally fell into it.
“I loved it as well, it’s not like I was forced to sit and watch it, I used to love watching the plays and sitting in the dressing rooms and listening over the tannoy.”
Vicki, who took part in I’m A Celebrity in 2014 and admits she’d love a go at Strictly Come Dancing, said: “She’d come to me with panto and she used to come on the stage, even when she was a tot we’d think up a little sketch that she could do.
“I’ve done one pretty much every year except for when I was in I’m A Celebrity and she used to talk to everyone and she’s learned a lot from just listening and watching.
“When she was at school her drama teacher just said she was brilliant.
“She did Miss Hannigan in school then I ended up doing it later and she was giving me tips.”
* Barmy Dale, which was recently rated in the top 10 sitcoms on the internet, returns with a new series on April 1 and is available on all podcast platforms
* Vicki is set to star in a production of Hello, Norma Jean at Southwold Theatre on the Coast
* Vicki is heading out on a theatre tour with comedy Dirty Dusting alongside Leah Bell and Vicky Entwistle later this year